(Yicai Global) June 15 -- China's top bike sharers Mobike, Ofo and Hellobike have all recently adjusted their deposit-free riding policies, but left one city in the dark: Beijing.
The capital is one of the biggest cities for the bike-sharing sector, but appears to have been excluded from preferential services, Securities Daily reported. Even without the special treatment, experts still believe that operators' big data suggests Beijingers will continue to use the bikes just as often.
Mobike and Ofo are the biggest players in the eastern metropolis and both are based in the city, but neither has included Beijing on their list of regions for deposit-free riding. Mobike's 100-city scheme covers mostly second- and third-tier cities, while Ofo's five-city portfolio names the remaining three of China's first-tier cities (Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen), Xiamen in the south and Hangzhou, home of major investor Alibaba. Hellobike offers a nationwide deposit-free policy, but has fewer bikes in Beijing.
Li Yi, chief researcher at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of Information Sciences, believes companies have decided to exclude Beijing based on big data calculations, which would imply that users there would keep using the services regardless.
"Beijing is different from other places in China, and is characterized by special political meanings and stricter regulatory requirements," he added. "Operators may also believe the deposit model will act as a prevention tactic to stop users creating problems."
Economist Song Qinghui suspects a likely reason behind Beijing's absence in the schemes is that the city's market is already fully developed and nearing saturation, so doesn't need promotional campaigns to bolster user numbers. There are still over 10 platforms in the capital, according to April data, with over 1.9 million cycles in service, around 450,000 less than eight months earlier. Figures suggest as many as half of the bikes are inactive.
Editor: James Boynton